We’re all going on a summer holiday…but there may be storms up ahead

The summer is upon us. Many schools have already broken up and the rest will follow suit shortly. Ahead stretches six or more weeks of holiday – and the annual family vacation.

The family fortnight is billed as the highlight of the year – when parents and children take a well-earned rest from work and school, bask in some long-awaited sunshine and enjoy quality time together. Unfortunately, the anticipated ‘quality time’ often descends into rows, resentment and outright hostility. No wonder, then, that September is one of the busiest times of year for divorce lawyers.

One of the problems with looking forward all year to a summer holiday is that expectation is sky high. And the higher it is, the further there is to fall.

Couples who aren’t getting along very well in ‘normal life’ often fancifully imagine that once they’re sitting on their apartment balcony together, sipping cocktails and watching the sun sink below the shimmering horizon, all their troubles will melt in the balmy heat and romance will be restored. The reality can be quite the opposite: the holiday accommodation and resort are a disappointment; the kids are bickering and their own relationship is as cold as the ice in their glass. What’s more, the cracks in their marriage appear more yawning because there isn’t the usual daily routine to distract them.

Even solid relationships can suffer when two people who normally spend a lot of time apart – due to work and leisure commitments – find themselves together 24/7. A wife may soon get irritated by a husband who’s constantly checking his work emails on his mobile phone; a husband might not enjoy being dragged on non-stop sightseeing trips when all he wants to do is have a beer round the pool.

Couples with young children can discover – too late – that their ‘holiday’ is simply round-the-clock childcare without their domestic infrastructure.

It is important, therefore, that holidays are planned carefully and practically – particularly if you know your relationship with your partner is a bit rocky, or that you may have difficulties with the children. Managing everyone’s wish list and expectations is not easy, but if you do your homework beforehand, your holiday stands a better chance of success.

If you’re reading this now and have already booked your holiday, give some thought to possible flashpoints and how they can be avoided; if you’ve not yet booked anything, resist the temptation to book a last-minute deal without considering whether it will work for the whole family.

Because when they do work out well, summer holidays can be everything they promise in the glossy brochures. I hope yours turns out to be a sunny one.